The Horse Forum banner

Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Can a verbal contract between boarder and barn owner hold up in court? I had a verbal contract with a boarder with 2 horses, that I require a 30 day notice when leaving or I charge a full months board on each horse. This boarder left with only a 3 day notice without paying the fee for not giving me a 30 day notice because she failed to mention to me that she was on a waiting list for another barn.

Of course she was too much of a coward to tell me to my face so she sent me a text message saying that she would leaving but thanked me for taking such good care of her horses, and when I replied minutes later that she had still had to pay me a full months board on each horse for not giving notice and she never responded back. Since her brother in-law was the actual owner of the second horse and mailed his board checks on the first of the month (he told me on the day the horses came here that if his horse needed anything to go through his sister in-law because he had up coming surgeries wouldn't ever be out) I called him the night before at 9pm to make sure he was aware that I required them to pay since they were leaving without a notice and he acted like he didn't know what I talking about and that he would call his sister in-law about it.

Well the next morning, which was the day that they were to haul out, I received his check in the mail and when I went to cash it, he had already put a stop on it. Seemed kind of odd that 12 hours prior he claimed that he didn't know anything but seemed to have already placed a stop on his check. He obviously knew what was required of him before leaving and since it took 2 days for his check to reach me and it already had a stop on it when I got it, it's clear he was lying to me on the phone. So when the woman came to get the horses I told her that there was a stop put on that check and that I needed to be paid. Her exact words were "Its OK because I have your money in my pocket". I knew that I could not legally hold her property and she did too, so she loaded her horses and quickly handed me an envelope but before I had a chance to open it she was in her truck and pulling away. I knew that all the money wasn't there, so when I opened it and there was only enough money to cover the 2 horses for 4 days of board inside I was beyond mad that these people were that deceitful after all I had done for them.

Its obvious that they both scammed me but my question is, between all our texts, phone calls, copy of checks and Facebook messages that clearly show that they boarded at my barn and that she never mentioned being a wait list for another barn. Can I take them to small claims court for the remaining amount of money that they owe me for not giving me a 30 day notice? It's not entirely about the money but the principle and letting them know that they can't go around doing this to barns. Even if I have to make the woman lose a day of work to go to court, I feel that I would at least make that point. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,223 Posts
Can a verbal contract between boarder and barn owner hold up in court? I had a verbal contract with a boarder with 2 horses, that I require a 30 day notice when leaving or I charge a full months board on each horse. This boarder left with only a 3 day notice without paying the fee for not giving me a 30 day notice because she failed to mention to me that she was on a waiting list for another barn.

Of course she was too much of a coward to tell me to my face so she sent me a text message saying that she would leaving but thanked me for taking such good care of her horses, and when I replied minutes later that she had still had to pay me a full months board on each horse for not giving notice and she never responded back. Since her brother in-law was the actual owner of the second horse and mailed his board checks on the first of the month (he told me on the day the horses came here that if his horse needed anything to go through his sister in-law because he had up coming surgeries wouldn't ever be out) I called him the night before at 9pm to make sure he was aware that I required them to pay since they were leaving without a notice and he acted like he didn't know what I talking about and that he would call his sister in-law about it.

Well the next morning, which was the day that they were to haul out, I received his check in the mail and when I went to cash it, he had already put a stop on it. Seemed kind of odd that 12 hours prior he claimed that he didn't know anything but seemed to have already placed a stop on his check. He obviously knew what was required of him before leaving and since it took 2 days for his check to reach me and it already had a stop on it when I got it, it's clear he was lying to me on the phone. So when the woman came to get the horses I told her that there was a stop put on that check and that I needed to be paid. Her exact words were "Its OK because I have your money in my pocket". I knew that I could not legally hold her property and she did too, so she loaded her horses and quickly handed me an envelope but before I had a chance to open it she was in her truck and pulling away. I knew that all the money wasn't there, so when I opened it and there was only enough money to cover the 2 horses for 4 days of board inside I was beyond mad that these people were that deceitful after all I had done for them.

Its obvious that they both scammed me but my question is, between all our texts, phone calls, copy of checks and Facebook messages that clearly show that they boarded at my barn and that she never mentioned being a wait list for another barn. Can I take them to small claims court for the remaining amount of money that they owe me for not giving me a 30 day notice? It's not entirely about the money but the principle and letting them know that they can't go around doing this to barns. Even if I have to make the woman lose a day of work to go to court, I feel that I would at least make that point. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.
As a barn owner who has had boarders, I'll put it this way. Do you want all the bad mouthing and negative talk that trying to hold them to that 30 day notice is going to cause? If you are doing boarding for a living, I wouldn't want someone who has moved getting mad and talking negatively about me to other potential boarders. I'd rather they said, "Well, she was very nice and took great care of my horses. We moved for convenience sake, and she was nice enough to waive the 30 day notice.".

I had a 30 day notice in my contract but I never once tried to enforce it. Most of the folks who left here left because they were moving out of the area or because they sold their horse, which I also helped them do. Obviously, if the horse is for sale and sells, they can't exactly give 30 days notice, or if they get moved because of a job, and they didn't know they were going to have to relocate, they can't really do it. It's nice if someone actually does let you know, because then you can advertise an opening before they're gone, if you want to get a new boarder.

And always, always, always have the contracts in writing. If you go to court and try to collect your money, the judge is probably going to have something to say about your lack of professionalism or business sense because of relying on a verbal agreement.

After all the crazy stories I've read here and a couple of the absolutely INSANE situations I've seen personally, I wouldn't give notice at all. I'd pull up, load my horses and say I was going to a show, a clinic, a trail ride and off I'd go. Once I was gone, I'd call and say I wasn't coming back.

Here's a link to a thread I started about 30 day notice and crazy barn owners:
http://www.horseforum.com/horse-boarding/crazy-barn-owners-trying-keep-horses-136731/

I'm not saying what your folks did was right, but obviously they felt they had to do what they had to do to get their horses out and to try to avoid a scene. I'd rather be magnanimous and wish them well and let it go than to have the drama and bad feelings.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,071 Posts
I agree with DA, good advice. However, if you still have the check, it is in itself a legal document. You can go to small claim court with that. But, ask yourself , do you want to "purchase' that kind of negative PR. Totally your call, but if you financially are able , take the high road. Also, as DA stressed, get a written contract and always conduct in a business manner. Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I have thought long and hard about this, and I have taking it into account that they might bad mouth my business, but to be honest I would rather be known for standing behind my word than allowing people to take advantage of me. Even when I was a boarder myself, I would have never even thought of just leaving a barn without giving an notice. This is the first time that I have ever had a boarder try and skip out on their board, and I'm not sure about other area's but that is a serious offense that can seriously scar a persons reputation and even prevent other barns from taking them in.
I tell people upfront before they bring their horse here what is expected of them as boarders, what rules are in place, and also what they can expect from me. This is normally done when we go over my contract, but in this case, we only had a verbal contract which I know is my fault but that does not mean that a boarder can just skip out and not pay for my services. Since I am a smaller barn, buying extra hay, grain, round bales, bedding, etc. for 2 extra horses and then not being paid can really put me behind financially. As for the court case, I have a good amount of evidence that I feel proves that I should be compensated for them leaving without a notice, and even other people who are willing to sign an affidavit stating that they were present for our conversation when I went over what was in my contract, but just not an actual signed contract. That was the first and only time I will allow someone here without signing a contract, and I still feel as though it's worth a shot of letting a judge decide but I wanted to get some other opinions too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,071 Posts
DiamondT, you have to do what you feel is right. I personally would love to hear their explanation to the judge on the stop payment check and then the envelope of money , even though it wasn't the full amount. That IMO will be very telling to a judge.

Best of luck to you and please keep us posted on what unfolds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
That's what I was thinking too WalkaMile. They did way too many shady things, and how would they explain them to a judge? I will keep this thread up to date on the outcome of the court case. Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,223 Posts
but that does not mean that a boarder can just skip out and not pay for my services.
You said she paid for the 4 days, so your actual services were paid for. You do what you feel you must, but I feel like this is just being spiteful. I'm a small barn too, and I buy my hay once a year, just like most other folks. I buy my grain monthly and the small amount for 2 horses......negligible. It's a good thing there's no jury in small claims court because if I were a juror, I wouldn't award a thing in this case. I'm not a judge and not well versed in your states laws though, so you might still prevail. They weren't right, I'll say that again but ....I kind of feel like you can be right or you can be happy. Your pick. I personally would walk away from this one, especially since you didn't do your job by getting a signed contract. Sorry, this is BO to BO, and I don't let anyone on the place before there's a signed contract, release of liability and they've signed to acknowledge they've received a copy of the barn rules. Just like I don't let anyone in here without a current Coggins and proof of vaccination. It's all part of doing business in a business like fashion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,399 Posts
Verbal contracts can be enforced. The problem is proving you have a verbal contract. That is why a written contract is standard practice. Your word alone is not enough to prove there is a verbal contract and they are likely to say there was no contract for 30 days notice which presents the she said-she said scenario and ends up with no proof of a contract. Cancelling the check could be seen as support for no 30 days notice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,402 Posts
Tough love coming.

You are either running a professional business or you're not. If you are, you need to run it like one -- which includes written contracts. The services you did provide were paid for. If you felt like you deserve more then you should have charged more and had it in writing.

You *might* win but it will not force them to pay. You could take steps and hit their credit report maybe, assuming you win a monetary judgement.

You will not be known for standing up to your word. They will go out there and paint your business in a bad light and make you out to be a crazy BO.
Posted via Mobile Device
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,402 Posts
Also wanted to add...

He may not have been lying on the phone. He could have sent the check in good faith and then spoke with her. Who knows what she told him but she could have made him believe the horses were in danger, so then he could have cancelled the check.

The cancelled check could also been seen as cancelled for services not needed as the check was for a full month and you were paid out for the four days.

Too much speculation and not enough hard solid proof.
Posted via Mobile Device
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
299 Posts
Why do you feel you should get paid for an extra month???......She paid for the time the horse was there. She wanted to go to another barn & had to take advantage of the opening. I feel the months notice is really not a fair thing to ask with the board being paid when the horse is not even there. In this economy it's hard to pay for double board (new stable & old stable). I have never felt that this is fair!! And if you have a new boarder come in during that month you are getting double board. Just not fair! If she left on good terms she may want to come back (you never know) and if you take her to court you will have made an enemy & she would never want to come back!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,071 Posts
ChristineNJ, it really doesn't matter if you agree with or against the 30 day board fee without a 30 day notice . It was agreed with the boarder and owner of the barn. Sadly, in this case not in writing.

I can see the point in paying a penalty, after all, hay, shavings grain were bought for those horses for those 30 days. But maybe a reduced amount to cover the costs only and not the manual labor that would have gone into taking care of them if they were there.

But, it's all a mote point. It will all come down to what a judge decides if the OP decides to go that route.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,459 Posts
ChristineNJ, it is no different in boarding horses and renting an apartment. Usually there is a 30 day notice with them too. Even if you are there for part of the month, you are required to pay for the full month. You may or may not move into a new place without having to pay at all or just part of the month.

OP, you say they paid for the 4 days. Just my opinion but... If they were there for part of the month, they owe for that month. You may win the case in pursuing the funds of the stopped check since it was owed to you. The check shows their agreement to pay you. The stopped check shows them as fraudulent. But you may lose in regards to your reputation as a business. Which is more important? Money now or future business?
Posted via Mobile Device
 
  • Like
Reactions: Walkamile

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,459 Posts
The first stable we used, we didn't give a 30 day notice. We did pay for the month in full but we were there only 3 weeks. The reason we pulled our horses was we felt they were being neglected and getting poor care. In cases like that, any contract, written or verbal, is broken and void. However that doesn't seem to be the case here.
Posted via Mobile Device
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,223 Posts
We haven't heard the boarders side of the tale and I'd like to hear that. Why were they moving in the first place? Were they dissatisfied with some part of the service or was it monetary or convenience or.....??? We don't know.

Anytime I hear or read, "After all I've done for them......" my red flags go up.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,854 Posts
OP... what were all the things you have done for them ? I no longer 'boarded' after a horrid woman was here. I buy hay by the truck and trailer load, and boarding simply helped offset my cost some. When the woman left I was happy happy happy, wished her luck etc, yet she still went around bad mouthing me. But then again that woman has done this everyplace she has kept a horse and soon there will be no one who wants her around. If she actually does not owe you any money for services , then I would not pursue a court case, it sounds like you are just being vindictive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
I see all of your points here, and appreciate your opinions but... First of all, as for asking for a 30 day notice, its my right as the BO to make that call, and plus its a pretty common thing for barns to do. In this case I told her that I would be ok with only $150 per horse instead of the full $300 per horse because I DO know how the economy is, and I would never want to take money that I didn't feel like was owed to me. She didn't even tell me that she was leaving until the 2nd, but if I had known, oh say 30 DAYS AGO I could have advertised for those 2 stalls. I told her that if she had let me know what her plans were ahead of time, none of this would even be an issue.

Dreamcatcher, I would love for her to explain her side to you, because I'm sure she'll tell how she threw her horses out on a rainy winter day with stable sheets on that were not waterproof so I went out and washed her horses blankets, and how I always threw her horses extra hay, extra grain (which her grain was $28 per bag!), etc.. As a barn owner yourself, like you claim to be, you should know that hay and supplies are expensive and for a smaller barn it IS a big deal. I can't just go out and buy 50 bales here, 25 bales there, I had to buy 150 which came to be almost $1000. The same for my bedding that I buy in big bales, I had to buy an extra one at $200 each, not to mention round bales that cant be returned and now are not being ate and rotting in my pasture. Please don't assume because I said "after all I did for them.." that they are automatically right. This lady knew of the 30 day notice rule, just like she knew about it being a rule at the last barn she was at(I know that because I was a boarder there with her a long time ago) and that is why I posted a question asking for peoples advice if they thought the evidence would hold up since I know I didn't have her sign a contract. By her leaving without a 30 day notice has cost me A LOT more then what I asked her to pay. You just dont go to a barn and not follow the rules just because you don't think you should. Taking her to court is NOT because I have nothing better to do, or because I'm trying to be deceitful or vindictive. I want justice served and if the judge rules in my favor then at least she knows that people wont allow her to do these things and someday her ways will come back to bite her in the ***. I don't care what she tells people to be honest, I would rather be known for sticking to my word and not allowing dishonest people to think they can come in and do what they please. If she is so much in the right, then please explain 1) why did they put the stop on the check which would have covered their bill... oh and to clarify the bank told me that he put the stop on it before that morning and would have had to do so the previous business day. So if his bank closed at 6pm the day before, then its safe to say that he knew all about it when I called him at 9pm and 2) Why didn't she tell me that she didn't think she had to pay when I was standing in right in front of her but instead handed me a sealed envelope and drove away as quick as possible?

Oh and one last thing... the reason she left was because she was on a waiting list for another barn and the move was not related to anything bad with my business. Her horses were pampered more then anything while being here, and were in no way neglected or abused, which a wrote in my original post.
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top